Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 17, 2017 - The US$300,000 Rio Open began here Tuesday with a Brazilian women’s country quota match featuring a pair of London 2012 Olympians as former partners Juliana Felisberta and Maria Antonelli squared off against each other with new teammates at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca.
Juliana and Carolina Salgado advanced to Wednesday’s qualifying rounds after posting a 2-1 (23-21, 19-21, 16-14) win in 56 minutes over Antonelli and Carolina Horta. The winning team now joins compatriots Josemari Alves and Liliane Maestrini as the two Brazilian pairs seeking a spot in Thursday’s opening “modified” pool play rounds for both men and women.
With Salgado playing in only her second FIVB World Tour event since giving birth to her son (Salvador) 10 months ago, she and Juliana rebounded from deficits in the first (13-17) and third (11-14) to secure the win. Salgado and Juliana placed ninth last month at the Xiamen Open in China. Prior to that start, Salgado’s last FIVB event was at the September 2015 Rio Open with her sister Maria Clara.
Carolina Salgado of Brazil
The schedule for Wednesday’s qualifier will be announced after the morning preliminary inquiry 8-11 a.m. (Rio time) at the Olympic Tennis Stadium. The women’s qualifier will start at 12 p.m. followed by the men’s preliminary rounds at 2:30 p.m. on the three outer courts at the Olympic Park.
In addition to the two women’s qualifying teams, host Brazil will have two men’s pairs competing in Wednesday’s preliminary rounds - Vitor Felipe/Fernando Magalhães and Oscar Brandão/Hevaldo Moreira. Wednesday’s qualification tournament will advance eight pairs from each gender’s preliminary rounds to Thursday’s schedule. Elimination rounds will highlight Friday and Saturday schedule with the medal matches being played Sunday at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca.
For the third-straight season and the 18th-time since the start of FIVB sanctioned competition in 1987, Rio de Janeiro will be hosting an international Beach Volleyball event. The “four-star” event also marks the 43rd men’s and 38th women’s event has been staged in Brazil.
RIO 2016 OLYMPIC PODIUM PLACERS RETURN
All three men’s teams that captured medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be in action Thursday, including gold medal winners Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil. Despite losing once in Copacabana pool play action last August in the Olympics Alison and Bruno rebounded to post a 2-1 (21-17, 21-23, 16-14) semi-final win over Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands and a 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) gold medal win over Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy.
Brouwer and Meeuwsen rebounded from the semi-final setback to capture the bronze medal with a 2-0 (23-21, 22-20) win over Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Konstantin Semenov of Russia. Krasilnikov will be playing this week Nikita Liamin, who finished fifth in the Rio Olympics with Dmitri Barsouk after being eliminated by Lupo and Nicolai.
One team and two players that were on the Copacabana Olympic women’s podium return this week, including gold medal winners Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany. Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, who dropped the Rio Olympic finale to the Germans split after the Rio Summer Games and will be playing with new partners this week.
Agatha will be competing in the Rio Open with Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa while Barbara will be playing with Fernanda Alves. Both teams have FIVB World Tour medals to their credit this season highlighted by Agatha and Duda’s second-place finish to compatriots Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca in February’s Fort Lauderdale Major in the United States.
Fifth-place finishers in Fort Lauderdale, Barbara and Fernanda rebounded to top the podium at April’s Xiamen Open in China where the Brazilian pair out-lasted the host country pair of Fan Wang and Yuan Yue in the gold medal match. To reach the Xiamen finale, Barbara and Fernanda defeated Antonelli and Horta in a three-set semi-final confrontation.
2017 FIVB WORLD TOUR
Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women Beach Volleyball players will be the $1-million FIVB World Championships July 28 through August 6 in Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany.
Alison and Bruno are the defending champions for both events after winning the 2015 world title in The Netherlands and the 2016 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals for the second-time in Toronto, Canada. While Ludwig and Walkenhorst are the reigning SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals gold medal winners, the 2017 FIVB World Championships will not have a defending champion as Agatha and Barbara captured the 2015 gold medal by defeating Fernanda and Taiana in The Hague finale.
With $5.335-million in prize money, the 2017 FIVB World Tour ranking system will include 15 other events for men and 19 additional stops for women featuring three SWATCH Major Series stops per gender, four-star (three per gender), three-star (four for men, three for women), two-star (one for men, three for women) and one-star (four for men, seven for women) Open events along with additional pre-approved tournaments at the inter-continental, continental and national levels.
With the SWATCH Major Series stop in Fort Lauderdale being the opening event on the 2017 FIVB World Tour calendar, five other events have been held in Iran (Kish Island), Australia (Shepparton and Sydney), Malaysia (Langkawi) and China (Xiamen). The Kish Island (men) and Sydney (women) stops were single gender events.
All the early-season gold medal winners have entered the 2017 Rio Open, including Americans Kim DiCello/Emily Stockman (Langkawi), Brazilians Saymon/Alvaro (Fort Lauderdale), Talita/Larissa (Fort Lauderdale) and Barbara/Fernanda (Xiamen), Australians Christopher McHugh/Damien Schumann (Shepparton), Canadians Julie Gordon/Camille Saxton (Shepparton and Sydney), Cubans Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez (Langkawi), Dutchmen Brouwer/Meeuwsen (Xiamen) and Russians Krasilnikov/Liamin (Kish Island).